Logan is a near perfect masterpiece of filmmaking that transcends the superhero genre with a moving sendoff to one of the most recognizable comic book heroes of all time. Boosted by Oscar caliber performances from both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, the film is honestly one of the best comic book films I’ve ever seen. Director James Mangold has made the hard-R Wolverine movie we always wanted, and I couldn’t be much happier with the result. Moreover, it’s my favorite X-Men movie to date.
In Logan, the former X-Men member Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) has become older and more battered in a future without many mutants. As Logan cares for a dying Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) along the Mexican border, he works as a limo driver. As a young girl named Laura enters the scene, Logan must take out his claws once again to help her reach safety.
The first thing I noticed about this movie is its distinct setting. Most superhero movies show sleek and grand shots of bustling cities, but Logan takes a huge step back from this in favor of a subtle, barren wasteland. This setting sets the stage for a net-western film that harkens back to the great Clint Eastwood films of the 60’s. Logan is plucked out from his larger than life world of mutants and placed into the harsh nothingness of dust and tumbleweed (until they go to the country land and the forest, but that’s later). The golden color scheme is very much different from any other superhero film and I really have to applaud Logan for making this decision.
The main thing that blew me away was Hugh Jackman’s performance. Just give this guy an Oscar nomination for this. I know it’s March and the Academy will probably forget this movie by then, but it’s going to be pretty tough for performances to be better than his. Jackman makes it clear why this character is broken. While he has healing abilities, seemingly nothing can heal a shattered soul like his and his invulnerability seems like a curse more than a gift. The uncountable amount of scars show how much this man has been through. Jackman brings an apparent weight to every scene he is in. Some of that has to do with the fact that we’ve become so close to him over the movies, but most of it is due to his ability to resonate with the audience. We feel his exhaustion and pain, and we really just want to see this guy rest. However, how can he rest when he’s constantly haunted by the things that he’s done in the past? Jackman’s performance conveys this perfectly – he’s subtle when he needs to be and rage filled when it’s most earned.
Patrick Stewart also gives a phenomenal performance. This film puts him in an interesting state that we haven’t seen in past X-Men films. Sure, he was old in Days of Future Past, but he wasn’t this broken. His character is faced with Alzheimer’s, and he has to deal with crippling seizures that paralyze the minds of those around him. Some of the big questions of the film deal with Charles. What happens when the most powerful mind in the world becomes uncontrollable? How does Charles deal with this unspeakable pain? While this movie mainly serves as a sendoff for Wolverine, it also has a fantastic sendoff for Patrick Stewart’s Professor X (James McAvoy will still play him in future installments).
The other major character is Laura aka X-23 (if you considered that a spoiler, it’s really not since it’s pretty much revealed in the trailers). I’d rather not reveal much about her character so let’s just say she’s a badass. Like a complete badass. The actress who played her did an awesome job with making her seem intimidating even though she’s a little girl. That’s all I’m going to say about her.
As many people have pointed out, most superhero films don’t do a fantastic job with villains. Usually the bad guy just wants to end the world or do something evil for the sake of being evil. A lot of villains don’t show a clear motivation for why they do what they do. Logan’s villains do somewhat fall this category, but they are much better than most baddies. A lot of that has to do with the grounded atmosphere – the film isn’t set up for these people to have some world-ending agenda because that would feel out of place. It felt refreshing to see a more realistic bad guy even though I wish the villain could have been someone a little more attached to Logan’s past. The dude with the robotic hand was pretty menacing and the actor did a really good job at being ominous. Without getting into spoilers, however, I will say that there is one character who people are polarized about. Some are upset because this character is not from the comics and others don’t mind it because this is an adaptation and it doesn’t have to religiously follow its source. I agree with the second group of people because I really liked the addition of this character. If you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about, and I’ll leave at that.
Another thing that I wanted to talk about was James Mangold’s direction. The guy did an amazing job with crafting this movie and made each scene have the emotional highs and lows that it needed. Every scene in this movie is gorgeous, and Mangold’s vision for everything in this was beautiful. This is the best looking X-Men film in my opinion even though it’s the one with the most toned down visual effects. He also has a great sense of timing with building tension. The action feels earned and not thrown just for fan service. When the restrained tension unleashes, Logan becomes an action-packed, exhilarating thrill. I feel like this type of movie is what Mangold wanted to make with 2013’s The Wolverine, but a PG-13 rating prevented him from doing that. Kudos to him for doing a masterful job on Logan!
Another big deal with Logan was its R-rating. After the unprecedented success of Deadpool, Fox became willing to take more risks and release another R-rated superhero movie. It’s a risky business decision since a portion of the target audience will be lost, but Fox understood that the safe route may not lead to the best outcome. If a movie is great, people will usually see it. Clearly, it’s worked out for the studio since Fox already made back it’s production budget and more in less than a week. I think the R-rating most definitely applies in the movie. Both this and Deadpool needed R-ratings to get the character right, and this Logan really needed to get the character of Wolverine perfectly in order to have a proper sendoff for Hugh Jackman. The violence and gore doesn’t just exist for action purposes since it actually serves the film’s narrative, which asks existential questions about dealing with violence. The violence adds gravity to Logan and makes more sense (try and tell me that metal claws won’t lead to a lot of bloodshed). The R-rating heightens the action and makes the film more impactful.
While there’s plenty of action and emotion to go along with, there are also some powerful messages sprinkled throughout the movie. There’s a scene in which Logan, Charles, and Laura go to a farm and are actually able to get a good night’s rest for a day. In the night, Charles says something pretty important: “This is what life looks like: people who love each other, a home. You should take a moment, feel it.” This powerful line was perfectly directed to Logan, who spends his days wandering around with his pain. Both Logan and Charles are at a point where they have forgotten the simple experiences of life. Too often does a superhero film present things on a global scale, and I found it wonderful that Logan takes it back to the everyday experiences of life. Live in the moment as opposed to the past, but use the past to help you along the road of life.
Finally, there’s the actual connection to the X-Men franchise. Where does Logan stand in the series? While many people hope that this won’t be a one-off movie in the context of the Fox-Marvel universe, I actually don’t mind this. This movie has the introduction of the actual X-Men comic books, which I thought was interesting. It’s almost like all those other films are fantasies compared to the reality of the situation, which is Logan. I feel much closer to Logan than I do to the other X-Men movies. If the franchise wants to continue in the direction that X-Men: Apocalypse set, that’s fine. I personally think the Logan timeline with limited mutants and a harsher world is better because it feels significantly different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. However, I don’t think Fox can make another film like Logan. No other character in the other X-Men films has this emotional and grounded of a story. But that just goes to show how great Logan is. It’s a step in another direction for comic book movies, and I hope that studios feel more comfortable taking risks now that this is a success.
Overall, Logan is a phenomenal film that blew me away in almost every capacity. It left a great impression on me as it’s pretty much all I’ve been thinking about for the last week. I wanted to take a little more time thinking about this movie before I review it just so I can get all my thoughts down. Aside from somewhat lacking villains (who are still pretty good), it has wonderful direction, a fantastic story, and incredible characters. Hugh Jackman gives a powerful, emotion-driven performance as the titular character. It’s my favorite X-Men movie ever, and most importantly, it’s the fantastic sendoff to one of the best comic book characters of all time.
So that’s my review of Logan! What do you think about the movie? Did you like it? Feel free to let me know in the comments section! Thanks 🙂
Categories: Movie/TV Reviews